An endearing and clever breed, the Basenji is a good family companion who can always stay one step ahead. Known as the “barkless” dog from Africa, the Basenji has always been loved by the population for its small size and mischievous expression. Don’t be fooled, though; even though it is “barkless”, it is by no means “noiseless”. Its vocalization can go from a beautiful yodel to a hair-raising screech and scream in an instant. It is a dog that has a lot of pros and cons, but overall a good, apartment-friendly companion.

Basenji Breed Information

The Basenji breed was originally found in Congo, Africa, and it was used to lead the game into the hunters’ nets, as well as control the rodent population of the village. The first trace of the breed dates back to thousands of years ago, from drawings found in Egyptian tombs. It was first introduced in England in the year 1937, where English breeders refined them and started exporting. The breed reached the USA in 1941 and was recognized by the American Kennel Club later in 1944.
The Basenji has a unique temperament and personality compared to other dogs, which is why many breeders will discuss the pros and cons of acquiring this dog with you so that you’ll know what you are getting yourself into. While the Basenji is an extremely intelligent breed, it is also extremely stubborn. The “willing to please” phrase that describes most of the breeds is something foreign to this dog. It may know very well all the commands that you teach it, but that doesn’t mean it will actually perform. Instead, they use their intelligence to find other ways to demand or get your attention. “We aim to please” becomes “We aim to be pleased” in this breed’s case. This does not mean that it will disregard their owners – they will just love them in their own way. If needed, Basenjis are known for their courage, and will protect their masters. This breed needs a great deal of time and attention, as they cannot be left alone in an apartment or yard for longer periods of time. Owners of the breed have described the Basenji as “the perfect teacher to pick up your house.” This means that if anything is left unsupervised, it can be chewed or eaten. So, in order to protect your belongings, you will learn to put them out of their reach.
  • Activity level: 2/5 (moderately active and playful)
  • Intelligence level: 3/5 (intelligent but willful))
  • Curiosity: 5/5 (very easy to distract and difficult to train)
  • Friendliness: 2/5 (friendly and playful, but stubborn)
  • Vocal: 4/5 (doesn’t bark, but can be very noisy)
The Basenji has always been admired for its short coat, muscular, small body, erect ears, alert demeanor and a tail that curls tightly over either side of its hips. It sports a wrinkled brow that gives it a quizzical, albeit mischievous looking expression.
  • Fur: It has a short, shiny coat that comes in many colors: black, copper red, chestnut red or even tricolor combinations of black, white and tan, or black, white and brindle.
  • Eyes: It has a pair of small, almond shaped eyes that are usually of a hazel to a dark brown color.
  • Body structure: Small, athletic body structure with a height of about 15 to 17 inches, depending if it’s male or female (females are about an inch smaller). It had straight legs and a back that is leveled.
  • Facial features: It has a wrinkled forehead and a muzzle that is shorter than the skull. Its ears are erect, small and open to the front.
  • Weight: The average weight of a Basenji is about 22 to 24 pounds.
Health and Care
Basenji can live up to 10 or 12 years, but can be susceptible to conditions such as Fanconi’s Syndrome (kidney failure) whose symptoms need to be treated immediately. It is also prone to eye problems, retinal atrophy, and intestinal disorders. The Basenji can stay healthy if it gets enough exercise, and is happiest if it has two or three other companions to keep it busy. They need vigorous exercise; otherwise, they tend to become lazy and overweight.
We have gathered this information from our breeders based on their experience with this breed. However, remember that each animal is different with its own personality and needs (just like people!), so use this information wisely. Do you know more about this breed and want to share your knowledge with us? Send us an email at